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ITU Stats - Issue 5: January 2011

Issue 5: January 2011

Increased competition has helped bring ICT access to billions

It’s good to compete

During the first decade of the 21st century, new information and communication technologies (ICTs) came within reach of most of the world’s people for the first time in human history – a success story facilitated by the introduction of competition and the creation of independent regulators across the globe.

  • By 2010, competition was available in over 90% of countries in mobile and Internet services.
  • There are now 157 independent regulatory authorities worldwide – up from 106 at the beginning of the decade.
  • The number of mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide grew from under 1 billion to over 5 billion over the course of the decade.
  • The number of Internet users worldwide grew from under 400 million to over two billion from 2000 to 2010.
  • The following services have seen the strongest growth in competition over the past 10 years:
    • International gateways – competition now available in 78% of countries, up from just 38% in the year 2000;
    • Basic voice services – competition now available in two-thirds of countries worldwide, up from under 40% in the year 2000;
    • Leased lines – competition now available in three-quarters of the world’s countries, up from under 50% in the year 2000;
    • Wireless local loop – competition now available in 82% of countries worldwide, up from 62% in the year 2000.

Increased Competition

The privatization (mostly) of incumbent operators
  • Twenty years ago, in 1991, just 37 countries’ main fixed-line operators were privatized. Today, 126 countries’ incumbent operators are partly or fully in the hands of private sector owners.
  • Substantial differences remain between regions: 86% of European incumbents have been fully- or partially-privatized; in the CIS the figure is just 50%.
  • With many markets already privatized, privatization activity has slowed down over the past few years, especially in the aftermath of the economic downturn, with fewer interested investors and lower investment funds available.



Broadband becomes a national policy priority
  • By 2010, some 82 countries around the world – from Afghanistan to the United States, Australia to Malawi, and Chile to Slovenia – had adopted or planned to adopt a national broadband strategy.
  • National broadband policies and plans are clearly focusing on the benefits of building nationwide broadband infrastructure to provide public services online – including e-health, e-education and e-government.
  • Over 40 countries1 now include broadband in their universal service / universal access definitions – and in some countries broadband access has become a legal right.

Broadband Policy

Data and analysis in this ITU Statshot are drawn from the ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Regulatory and Indicators databases.

Further ICT statistics are available online at ITU’s ICT Eye, at:

ITU also publishes a full range of current statistics and analyses. For further information see:


1 Countries include: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, Colombia, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Finland, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Haiti, India, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Malawi, Malaysia, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Spain, Sudan, Suriname, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda, United States.


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